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Peter Theo Curtis ’91

Journalist Freed from Qaeda Affiliate is Middlebury Alumnus

August 25, 2014

UPDATE - 8/27/14

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- Less than a week after the horrific death of American journalist James Foley, there is good news for another American reporter. Peter Theo Curtis, who graduated from Middlebury in 1991 with a bachelor's degree in literary studies, was released, unexpectedly, on Aug. 24 after nearly two years in captivity.

The New York Times reports that Curtis had traveled to Turkey near the Syria border in 2012, when he strayed into Syria and was betrayed by a guide who handed him off to the extremist group, Ahrar al-Sham, which later gave him to the Al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front. According to the Times, the release was due in large part to extensive negotiations by the nation of Qatar, which has successfully negotiated the release of other hostages.

A statement from Curtis's family, published by The Washington Post, expressed deep gratitude for those who negotiated the release and supported the family through the crisis.

“My heart is full at the extraordinary, dedicated, incredible people, too many to name individually, who have become my friends and have tirelessly helped us over these many months,” said Theo’s mother, Nancy Curtis, of Cambridge, Mass. “Please know that we will be eternally grateful.”

According to the Post, "Nancy Curtis asked for privacy in the immediate aftermath of her son’s release."

Peter Theo Curtis had changed his name from Theo Padnos, the name under which he continued to write, to make it easier for him travel in the Arab world, according to a statement from the Curtis family.

Read full coverage in The New York Times and The Washington Post.



Among multiple other meanings, this news strikes at the heart of what it means to be part of the Middlebury Family. I, as surely countless others with ties to Middlebury College, had a strong visceral reaction to learning of the pain of Peter's captivity and the incomprehensible relief that his family members felt upon his improbable release. Many of Nietzsche's quotes relate powerfully to Peter's ordeal and survival, including "That which does not kill us makes us stronger" and "To live is to suffer - to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering." Congratulations to
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Peter and his supporters, close and far, for his survival and opportunity for him to continue a life of insight and discovery, testing the boundaries of human awareness and perception.
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by David Minot '74 (not verified)

Whew! So glad you were released!!! I empathize with your mother and the relief she must feel--as well as you!!

by marjorie Raisma... (not verified)

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